150 years ago, the first Lay Reader in the Anglican Communion was licensed in Standish in the Diocese of Gloucester. This Sunday, Bishop Rachel led a special service of celebration at Standish parish church, to pray for the ministry of Readers both past and present.
The Church of England’s first Reader was Mr J D T Niblett, who was the squire of Haresfield Court, in the next village to Standish. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians, with a keen interest in local history and his speciality was researching monuments in village churches. He supported the refurbishment of the parish church.
There are now over 200 Readers in the Diocese of Gloucester and more than 10,000 across the Church of England.
Readers wear a blue scarf and often lead worship, preach and teach. Some have particular roles in the wider community – in schools, in work-place chaplaincy or as pastoral visitors. Some are specially trained to take funerals and in caring for the bereaved. Others are in pioneer roles, seeking to bring the gospel to people beyond the familiar boundaries of church.
The Revd David Runcorn, Warden of Readers at the Diocese of Gloucester said, “We are honoured that the first Reader was licensed within this Diocese. Since that time, Reader ministry has grown hugely and we thank God for the men and women who serve in this way. They are a vital part of the Church and are involved in every part of church life and mission.”